The owners of Nosh & Booze intend to replace their West Loop restaurant with a new one that serves Southern/Low Country food. Sam Hill Eatery & Saloon should open at the end of the summer inside the space that housed Vivo for 25 years at 838 W. Randolph Street. Nosh & Booze will close on December 31 as crews prepare to gut the two-floor restaurant.
Nosh & Booze opened in July 2016 and was a filler concept only intended to last six months after AMK Restaurant Group bought Vivo. The company didn’t want to run Vivo while they figured out what would replace the West Loop stalwart: “We just decided to have fun with it,” said Steve Tsonis, owner of Nosh & Booze and sibling restaurant AMK Kitchen Bar in Bucktown. “We just served what we wanted to eat.”
But as December 2016 approached, Tsonis and his colleagues realized Nosh & Booze was performing better than expected and extended the restaurant’s run indefinitely. That afforded them the time to tweak their ideas. Tsonis said they looked at how customers reacted to certain items and got to better know their customers. They saw how happy hour kept the restaurant busy with office workers coming in from the Loop.
“The advantage was there were a lot of places that opened in the spring and summer and we were able to see different trends in the neighborhood,” Tsonis said. “We believe this southern concept is something the community is missing.”
AMK chef Barney Smith is developing Sam Hill’s menu, but Tsonis wasn’t ready to talk about menu items: they have 75 percent done. They’ll have a tasting menu available at the first-floor chef’s table where guests will be closer to the open kitchen. The first and second floors will both have bars. Sam Hill will offer weekday lunch and dinner while serving brunch on weekends.
Most people know “Sam Hill” from the phrase “what in the Sam Hill is that?” Tsonis envisions Hill as an amalgamation of six characters from the 1800s — a rough character with a big heart who helped feed coal miners during a food shortage.
While West Loopers are hardly coal miners, AMK’s new restaurant intends to feed them and fill a void. Tsonis described the concept as “southern swank.” Check back for more details in 2018 as AMK reveals more.